Welcome to our Christmas calendar! Over the next 24 days until Christmas Eve, we’ll give you a little taste of Yuletide from the north to see how Nordic people really celebrate the festive season.
Today is Jule Hjerter – Christmas Hearts.
Christmas hearts are a traditional decoration in Denmark, where they are called julehjerter. You’ve probably seen them before, or even made them at school, but it doesn’t seem to be that widely known that they’re Danish. So Danish, in fact, that probably the oldest one in existence was made by Hans Christian Andersen himself, at some point in the 1850s.
A heart is made from two long pieces of paper with curved ends. They’re folded in half, then cuts made into the shape from the folded end, before they’re weaved into each other to interconnect. When the heart is complete, add a little paper tag at the top to hang it off a tree, wall or any other place that needs some Christmas hearting.
Hans Christian Andersen didn’t add a hanging tag to his original heart, so it’s not clear what he did with his. It’s also white and dark green, unlike many of the hearts that would follow, which followed the red and white of the Danish flag.
The oldest surviving guide to making a Christmas heart is from 1871, and around 1910 making hearts started to be used as a way to help with toddlers’ development skills (a typically Danish way to create a tradition).